Come Follow Me

Come Follow Me
"And he saith unto them, "Come and follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matt. 4:19) As the New Year begins, we, the members of the Willow Wood Ward, invite you to Come and Follow Him!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sister Sydney Burningham


Happy Christmas from Tennessee, I hope it was wonderful for all of you!  I am so grateful I got to Skype you all and I loved every minute of it.  Sam, your voice is still so low I can't believe it and you have an incredible voice.  Mom, loving your hair long like that, adorable.  Dad, that beard, I sort of hope you keep it or at least grow it out again when I get home.  Willey, pretty much I love you so much.  And Brigster, keep being original and awesome.  I loved to see all of you and I'm so grateful for the family I've been blessed with.  This Christmas season I was especially grateful for my family being away from you all, you mean the world to me.

As for this week so much has happened. I suppose you want an update on this transfer, happening this Wednesday.  Sister Whitehead is leaving me to go be with someone else, we're not sure where or who with yet so I will keep you updated on her.  As for me, I will stay here in Chilhowee and still be a Sister Training Leader with a new one, so I supposed I am supposed to help her get used to the area and being a Sister Training Leader.  It'll be great fun.  I love this ward so I'm really excited I get to stay for at least six more weeks!  Not exactly sure who my companion will be but we will just trust in the Lord and go with it. 

As for our area and our people.  We had the MOST incredible lesson with the Kronick's.  We taught the plan of Salvation to Debbie and Chelsea, they had so many questions.  Chelsea was so excited about it she is planning on attending the ward in North Carolina.  She said "This makes the most sense to me out of anything I've ever learned about God or Jesus Christ."  She loves the gospel and she wants to be baptized.  Something about Chelsea is that she was married and had her daughter Rosalie.  Her husband Dan was a marine and was killed over seas.  She wants to know what happens to their little family and she just wants to have peace and happiness and she recognizes this is what is going to make her have the most peace and happiness.  It all just makes sense, I am so grateful for my knowledge of the Pre-Earth life and the knowledge that we are here to remember what we have already learned, the gospel has a familiar ring to it, especially to those who are prepared to receive it.  Amazing, I love that family with my whole soul.

Thank you for all the Christmas cards and gifts!  It meant so much to me and I'm so grateful for my family, I have the best family in the Universe. I'm really grateful for the new year coming up and all the new years resolutions.  I read this talk by Gene R. Cook titled Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I recommend it.  He said something in there that really hit me, he says:

"The faithful ones will want to know the specific will of the Lord concerning themselves and then, in faith, discipline themselves to submit to his will."

All we have to give the Lord that he hasn't given us, is our will.  As we start the new year I really hope that we can all make an effort to align our will with the Lord's.  All he asks is that we try and put in our effort, he will bless us in all that we do.  I love my Savior Jesus Christ, I am grateful for his Atonement and that I am able to be forgiven for my mistakes and shortcomings through him and his sacrifice.  I am so blessed to be here serving in Tennessee, these people have a special place in my heart and I will be forever grateful for my time here.  Onto the next adventure with a new companion, wish me luck!

I hope you have a wonderful week, thank you again for everything!

Sister Burningham

The amazing Cupp Family.  Sister Whitehead and Elder Burnett said bye last night!

This is the amazing Toni Marler, she's my favoirte person.  She comes on team ups with us almost daily, wants to serve a mission this summer!

Elder Seth Garner

Merry Christmas!!
This has been such an amazing Christmas season! I can't even describe all of the feelings I have felt as I have pondered on the true meaning of Christmas and felt my Savior's love by helping others come closer to him... It has been a very tender experience for me. I think the most amazing thing I have been able to experience this month all involves Anthony Mwereru. I am SO grateful to have met this man. Once again, I feel an overwhelming love for him just like I have felt for past investigators and recent converts. It has been my favorite thing about serving a mission so far. There is nothing quite like it!

SO, with that being said... Anthony will be getting baptized this Saturday! Oh man, I can't even put words into this pathetic email that describe how happy I am! It has been quite the trip for Anthony this past month, having gone from not knowing anything about the church to committing to be baptized within less than a month. Anthony and his family have felt the Spirit of Christ this Christmas season FOR SURE. So many ward members have willingly helped out in any way that they can, giving furniture, gifts, food, and so much more. I am grateful to be apart of Christ's church! The love of Christ has been shared with Anthony and his family through faithful members of this church, because they know what it truly means to be a saint and a disciple of Christ.

We committed Anthony to live the Word of Wisdom a little over a week ago. He had a smoking problem that he was a little worried about. We took his cigarettes, gave him a priesthood blessing, and continually prayed for him to have the strength to conquer his addiction. Satan is a pretty sneaky guy, because the day after we gave him the blessing, Anthony started having back problems, so he has been inside for a couple of days. Anthony usually only smokes when he has nothing else to do. BUT, he has been able to stay faithful to his commitments, and has held strong! He had his baptismal interview last night, and he is good to go! Brother Lythgoe in our ward will be performing the baptism, and THAT is going to be an experience that I will never forget. Holy smokes I am so blessed! Best Christmas gift in the world! Haha, I am so excited for Anthony, and for his family as well! They will be at the baptism, and that will be quite the experience for them. Anthony has received so many blessings from the Gospel already, but I don't think he knows just how blessed his life will become after he is baptized and continues to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am grateful for my Savior. I am eternally grateful for the sacrifice that He made for me. What a wonderful time of year we have to celebrate His coming into the world to perform the Atonement! I know that He did that for all of us, so that we can be forgiven of our sins, overcome our weaknesses, and feel God's love. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

       Elder Garner

Elder Dallin Stout

We have been working with Mary to get her ready for Baptizm on the 26th. Her interview was on Friday and she passed! Her son John will Baptize her and she has been increasing in her desire for this.
 This week we have sung the song "Mary did you know" (with the guitar that our ward mission leader is letting us borow.) to our potential investigators and people on the street that we run into.(We have sang this song like 20 times at least for EVERYONE!) It is a great finding tool, we have had several great experiences by doing this and it is opening doorways in peoples lives for us to be a positive influence for them. On Friday was the ward Christmas party. We had several investigators attend and they all enjoyed it a lot. Elder Driggs, Jason Anderson and I sang "Far far away on Judeas Plains" as the opening performance. The ward did a great job at welcoming all the non/less active members and we met people that they had brought. In one situation there was this young man named Bow who is a home less hitch hiker who we were able to place a Book of Mormon with and testify of it. 
ext Sunday an old investigator who just came back from Utah Valley University, is getting baptized! His name is Kevin, he has been living with return missionaries at school and he has been waiting until now to get baptized into this ward.

Elder Stout

This is a post script to Elder Stout's letter....Mary was baptized on December 26th and her son John baptized her.  Please see the delightful picture just received of this joyful occasion below:

Sister Syndey Burningham

This is my district leader, Elder Burnett.  He's from Idaho.  We're drinking hot chocolate at a members, Sister Steward, she's the bomb!

Hey Everyone!

First of all I just want to say Happy Christmas!  I hope your holiday season is filled with candy, eggnog, chocolate, fireplaces, and the spirit of Christ.  I seriously love being a mission during this season, it's been such a great experience to look outside of myself and just seek the service opportunities around us.  I'm grateful especially for the knowledge of the Savior, his birth, his ministry, and his atonement.  What a wonderful time of the year.  I just love it, that's all.

Before I get into the good stuff--did all of you know that Phil of Duck Dynasty got kicked off the show for sharing his feelings about the Bible and homosexuality?  Well he did and these people in the south are in an uproar about it.  It's probably the most hilarious thing I've ever seen.  Haha I mean these people are just beside themselves that this happened.  It's all they can talk about.  The good news is they all firmly believe the Bible and that Christ is their Savior and they really do defend Him.  There are so many good people down here regardless of the denomination they are; they love the Lord and it's inspiring to me.  I also feel like every time I try to just tell a funny story I just go right back into spiritual haha so sorry about that one.

I wanted to update you on a few of our people because I realized sometimes I don't actually update you on individual people.  So one really great thing is we've been working with this less-active named Nann.  Her son, Michael, is not a member and is going to be baptized now on January 25th!  I love it when people decide to be baptized to receive a remission of their sins and get on the path that leads back to our Father in Heaven.  He's awesome!  He needs to quit smoking, but he'll do it. Debbie in Kingsport did it, he can do it, anyone can do it!

One really amazing thing that happened as well is we've been working with Darla Lockett.  A Less-active member.  She has had a rough life.  She was diagnosed with cancer about fourteen years ago and she is terminal now.  The doctors told her she has six months to a year to live.  She isn't coming back to church and is going to be on hospice.  But the good news is that she requested a priesthood blessing from her home teacher, Brother Atkins.  He's only been a member for about three years.  They gave her a blessing and she was so comforted.  Her non-member roommate, Youlandah, was there and she requested one too.  She's been in a lot of pain and lost her job because she couldn't keep up and asked if God would help her to find help free of charge so she can get fixed up and get back to work.  Are you ready for the miracle?  The day after the blessing she got a call to come into the doctor.  So she went they did x-rays for free!! She didn't have to pay the co-pay.  Needless to say she believes the priesthood is a real thing and it was very faith promoting for her. 

I just have one really great quote I read this week:

"When we look beyond people's color, ethnic group, social circle, church, synagogue, mosque, creed, and statement of belief and when we try our best to see them for who and what they are- children of the same God- something good and worthwhile happens within us, and we are thereby drawn into a closer union with that God who is the father of us all."
-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

It reminds me of a story in the bible in Luke Chapter 9 when Christ is talking to his disciples after he cast a devil out of someone and he says that the least among you shall be great and then he rebukes the disciples and he says  "Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."  Something I learned this week is that we all have a story, we all come from different walks of life and we all have our beliefs and ideas about things.  Of us it is required to love all people.  No matter what.  I love my Savior and I love this time of year we have to remember our Savior's birth and to seek out opportunities to serve Heavenly Father's children all year long.

Have a very happy Christmas, and a great week I love you all!

Sister Burningham

This is Christmas corner in our apartment.  I drew a fireplace on the wall and there are some of our presents and a navtivity.  It's so fun, we love it in here.

Elder Dallin Stout

So last Monday we had to take the car in to get something repaired. We took the 2nd ward Elders with us and we had to wait for 2 hours. In the waiting room we wrote letters and I read from the scriptures. There was a TV show on that was a bunch of women talking about worldly things. We had been trying to ignore what we were hearing but it got to the point that the conversation had gotten very inappropriate and I found it hard to focus on reading. So we got up and went outside to wait on the sidewalk curb.  
The next day had an appointment with a family who wanted to know more about us. We took John with us and we had a 2 hour lesson on answering questions and the restoration. They are a great family and we will continue to teach them.
On Saturday we meet a lot of people who were Hispanic, so I didn't say much. We talked to a guy named Joe who immediately told us that he had seen Jesus. He went off on a bunch of anti Mormon stuff. When we told him that we may not agree on doctrine and testified of Jesus Christ, he was less accusing and we wished him a Merry Christmas. Later we had a lesson with Kirk, a man we met tracting. He was very laid back and asked a lot of good questions. We taught him about the restoration and eternal families. He has 3 kids and loves his family, he was teaching one of his kids how to shoot a BB gun while we were teaching him. I am excited to have another lesson with him he is open to learning and we left him with a Book Of Mormon. 
Yesterday was the Christmas concert, we invited all our investigators but they didn't come. Joan told me that morning she would and then canceled last minute. Mary, our investigator with a baptismal date didn't come to church either. In our last few lessons with her she seems to have forgotten why she made the commitment. She has severe memory problems so its hard to teach her but she knows her commitment and is working towards it. She needs all the help she can get if you could keep her in your prayers that would be helpful. 
  The Christmas concert last night was awesome! The best performance I have seen in any ward. They sang an African song that I have heard Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing. The last performance was silent night in different languages like: German, Greek, Italian, Russian, Spanish, French, Ugandan, Hawaiian, Portuguese, Mandarin. We are preparing to sing "Far far away on Judea's plains" ackapella (however you spell it) for the Christmas party this week.  

   Ya so my companion in the middle of the night sits up and shouts "will you read the Book of Mormon!" He is dreaming of mission stuff! I am done with my first transfer already! This week we ran into a lot of bible bashers, it was a very good learning experience for the both of us. We realized that we couldn't answer every question they had for us. They would ask questions but not listen to what we said without trying to twist our words. We decided that in those situations we can listen to them and simply testify of Christ. We don't want to waste time with these people when their are others who are already to harvest. 
A recent convert in the ward John, received the Aaronic Priesthood on Sunday. His mother Mary is an investigator and that same day she came to a baptism. The service was for an 8 year old named Jacob, he is mentally handicapped and it was a great opportunity to see someone perfect be baptized. He didn't need to be baptized but neither did the son of God, he was an example to me of someone who is exactly obedient. 

Elder Bremen Acord

Heyyy family!

Last week was fun. Zone leaders council was on Wednesday. I wonder how much longer I will be going to zone leader councils for. President has to start training new zone leaders for the new mission president. I hope I have at least one more. I'm pretty sure that I will though. This last week we had interviews with President Oliveira. They went to everyone in the mission's house. That's 8 islands, 58 houses, 120 missionaries. Luckily, since Elder Darling and I were awesome, we probably have one of the cleanest houses in the mission. President and Sister Oliveira came in and said that we live in a Celestial house :) My interview was pretty good though, it was kind of weird though, he basically just complemented me the whole entire time saying how awesome I was and how good Elder Darling and I are doing. Which is a lot better than some of the interviews that I heard he had. Sometimes he is pretty rough haha that why it was strange to hear such nice words the whole time. IT was good though. We had our first baptism of the transfer finally and Kuka was baptized. She is sweet. She gave us a list of 72 people that we need to teach. This week we have a mom and a son that will get baptized, ConceiƧao and Fabio. They are super nice :) Okay, well I love you so much Family! I hope you all have a wonderful thanksgiving! Thanks a ton for putting some money in for me. I love you guys!!! 

9 days until Christmas!! I cannot wait to see you guys! First week with the new zone, area and comp. Varzea is a really strong ward. Definitely the strongest ward I have worked in. Almost everything works how it should. It makes our work as missionaries a LOT easier. In a lot of other areas sometimes it felt like I was just running the ward. Here, the ward handles everything, we just teach. Elder Gourgel is cool. It is different serving with an African and always speaking Portuguese, but it's sweet. We have been in a triple all week with Elder Pumbumua from Mozambique. It's been a very African filled week and its going to be a very African Christmas! haha 

Christmas plans for the zone? We had the Santiago Christmas party this last Tuesday, Christmas. I decided that I am going to spend my Christmas money to bless the lives of a couple of local families for Christmas. We will go buy some stuff for the kids and leave it at the door and run :) I LOVE CHRISTMAS! I am going to be a Christmas maniac when I am home. I love you all soooo much! 9 days until I get to see you on Skype!!!!! :)

Elder Acord

P.S. The picture was last weeks baptisms in Praia.  The two zones combined had 22 that week. This week both zones had 20. Before, Praias average has been 8-10. Things are picking up! 

Elder Colton Richins

I am getting old. And writing each week is getting harder and harder. :) But the thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that if I ever didnt write home I would probably get beat up hard core by my mother...or you would probably find a way to beat me up from out here...heaven forbid me getting a phone call from President Fluckiger giving me faca for not writing my mother. That is probably the scariest thing you could do to me.
Anyways...this last week was absolutely insane. I do not think I have had 1 normal week here in Lagos. So the drivers stuff was much as it could be. We have to go back in a couple weeks for Elder Wilson to finalize the process. He has to practice driving stick shift as is bad enough having to drive in Portugal...but with stick shift...yikes. haha. So we are playing around with the idea that we are probably going to die on the last week of our missions. haha. Just kidding mom. Dont freak out.
I started doing tithing settlement interviews this last week. Man. Those things are interesting. I remember being on the other side of the bishop when these happened. But performing the interview is a whole other experience. I know that there are few full tithe payers in the branch...and I am really trying to focus on doing better in teaching the doctrine of tithing and fast offerings in the branch so that people will feel motivated by the spirit to pay. I have been sharing parts from Elder Bednar's most recent talk on Tithing during my interviews. I have done about 4 so far. And I have some this weekend...and the weekend after Christmas as well. So I will be doing tithing settlement interviews for the next couple of weeks. It is a great opportunity. It confirms to me that a leaders biggest job is to be a teacher. I have to look for opportunities to teach in every situation. Speaking of... :/ Yesterday...I don't know if I have already explained to you the complicated situations of those rebellious members from the Portimao branch that come to Lagos to attend church because they don't support their leaders...well if I haven' will have to wait until Christmas. But they always stick together. Yesterday this lady came to me from Portimao and said that she wanted to pay her fast offerings. She started crying as she explained to me why she wanted to pay. I looked at her and told her...I am sorry. But I cannot accept your fast offerings. Then the rest of the Portimao members congregated around her and the ex- branch president of Portimao asked me why I wouldn't take her money. That when he was branch president he would accept tithes and offerings from people outside of the branch. I told him that I do not have their records in the branch for MLS. And he said. "Well just create a new folder for them."  I told him, "I am sorry. But I have received instruction from my mission president that I am not allowed to accept tithes and offerings from people outside of my unit".....they werent very happy about that. They kinda turned the situation so that they looked like the victims. Fun situation. Another one of those ''leadership is sometimes a lonely calling'' type of situation. But I felt good that I stuck to the instructions of the district presidency and President Fluckiger.
This last week me and Elder Wilson created our Branch Vision. I have never made such big plans for a branch in my mission. This is my 3rd branch in my mission (out of 5 areas). I wish I could explain to you in depth of everything we are planning on doing...I guess that will be for the skype conversation. Our overall vision is that this branch be self reliant...spiritually. This branch is completely run by the missionaries. And we want to build up the branch in a way that if the missionaries were suddenly taken away...the branch would not fall to pieces. We had an INCREDIBLE talk with the 1st counselor in the district presidency, Luis Melo. He lives in our branch. People sometimes talk about this guy as someone who never wanted the Lagos branch to open, and as someone who is a rough person and stuff. After talking with him yesterday, I am totally on his side. We really understand where he was coming from. He opened up completely to us, and there was this humility about him that I had never seen before. In a way...he was pleading for help from me and Elder Wilson. He seemed to have said with his actions ''will you be the missionaries that understand where I am coming from? Will you be the ones to take my advice and make LASTING changes in this branch?'' It was such a cool experience. And after he gave us the information of 2 families that he would like us to go visit! And now me and Elder Wilson are even more pumped to just give EVERYTHING that we have. Everything that we have learned on our missions seems to have prepared us for what is coming up. It is going to be hard. Very hard. But we are ready. It is time to see miracles. Time to leave everything on the table. And time to fight. We are praying a ton that we will be able to carry out the plans we have made. It is gonna take VERY careful planning. Everything has to be perfect in order to work. Pray for us! 
So that is a portion of what happened this last week. As I have said it is truly impossible to include everything that happens here in Lagos. It is quite the adventure. I hope everyone has a great week! Thanks for everything that you have done for me! I love you and I DID receive the package and I am SO grateful for it. :) Nothing is opened yet. Dont want to ruin the surprise! haha. THanks mom! Hope you have a great week!
Elder Colton Wayne Richins

p.s Yes I will be calling in the morning! Won't have an hour until next week. But I will be calling in the morning.

Sister Sydney Burningham

Family and Friends,
Yes, Fragrant Cloud Lane is the name of a street close to our bishops house and like Magic Lantern Lane or something.  I love the street names here they crack me up.  There's really no grid system so I don't know where I am most of the time, and we all know I'm terrible with directions as it is, so the combination is just a disaster when I go on exchanges and have to be here without Sister Whitehead driving and directing us.  She's like a human GPS so that's cool.  I also realize that my street address back home is Pony Express Way so really I'm in the same category with all these people in Tennessee.  Today we went to the post office before emailing and met this way cool lady who really loves Christ, that's an everyday occurrence here, it's wonderful, got some nice Christmas Stamps. 
Sister Whitehead and I have been so happy about this Christmas time.  We see the lights and it makes us so happy.  We have this place in our apartment called Christmas corner, we have two trees, lights, a fireplace drawn on paper and hung up, a nativity scene.. etc.  We are just loving this Christmas season.  This month as a mission we are focusing on the finding section of preach my gospel.  Pretty pumped about that actually we are focusing on Asking for Referrals from Everyone and talking with everyone.  It has made the world of difference.  We love these people and love just inviting them to learn more, regardless of the outcome, because the faith is in the action, not in the result. 
I love being a missionary.  I love seeing others learn and grow and change their lives around.  I probably sound like a broken record when I say that but I really mean it.  My mission has changed my perspective on life and it's wonderful. 
I love the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it's not complicated at all, we make it complicated. 
"Pray and go do as inspired." -President Howard W. Hunter
It's just that simple, trust the Lord that he will lead you to those who need help, who need strength and who need the gospel. 
We have zone conference and a Christmas party this week so we're pretty excited about that.  I think this Elder in our district is going to stand up and do impersonations of people for our talent, he's hilarious. 
Thank you for all the Christmas cards and gifts, Mom I got the package you sent and I'm excited for the other one! I wish the cheer and peace and happiness that comes during this time of the year as we reflect on the Savior's birth lasted all year long.  The best news is.. it can!  We just have to change our perspective a little on the most important things in life.
I love you all I hope you have a fantastic week!
Sister Burningham
3 Nephi 15:9

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Elder Brandon Wallis

Here's an update on the work up here. Marcella is still out of town. Until January I think... The Johnson's are doing awesome! They're talking with their family about when they could all come to Baptism! We're going to set a solid date with them tomorrow at lunch. They want to do it before Christmas! We haven't been able to catch Pete home again, he seems really busy, and we haven't been able to go to the Jemez again with the weather and the mileage thing. We have to go to Zone Conference this month, and it's going to take a lot of miles. Denice is the investigator up in the Jemez and her neighbor friend is a potential investigator, Judy. Daniel is the less active that wants to come back. The Ward counsel was really excited to hear that. We got 3 new investigators! Vijay and Sahana are friends of the Bakers family in the Ward. They're Hindi! And awesome! Vijay is the father and Sahana is the daughter. There's no one else at home. Not sure what the situation is. We also got Burgandy Brock. She's 22 has a little boy and is super nice. All these people came to the Creche show. It's a display of a bunch of Nativity scenes from around the world. It was quite impressive. The best part is, I think all of these new investigators will come to Church this next Sunday! They're all willing to try things to feel closer to God. It's nice to find people who are genuinely searching. Not much else has happened. It has slowed down a lot with the Holidays and the weather, but none the less we have been able to see some awesome miracles. 

I love you all! Stay safe with the snow!

Elder Wallis

Elder Dallin Stout

On Monday, December 9, 2013 1:06 PM, Dallin Stout wrote:
So I met this guy that went to BYU and was there with Denis Pitta. My companion Elder Driggs went to Maple Mountain high school. He had a weight lifting class with the wrestling coach as the instructor and said how hard that class was. With that wrestling team being 41st in the nation I can understand why that is! 
Elder Driggs was sick Monday night and all day Tuesday. We went to a members home to give him a blessing. Other than that I spent the day reading the Book of Mormon. I was amazed at how much I read without ever getting tired or mentally zoning out, everything I read that day was about missionary work, I learned a lot about how the Lord works through us when we teach with the spirit, and trust that by the spirit we will know what to say. 
We had a surprise lesson with Mary on Saturday. We taught her about faith and how to act on it. She asked the question "so what is the next step?" I told her baptism. I explained that faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things. I certainly don't know everything there is to know! But by acting on what the Lord allows us to know we can come to a greater knowledge of things. We asked her to pray about baptism, and to bring that question in her heart when she comes to church. After church we had a lesson with her about how the Holy Ghost works. Our ward mission leader was present, and he showed her a Mormon message on his ipad with Elder Jeffery R. Holland explaining how the spirit works. The lesson eventually came to her son John (who received the Aaronic Priesthood last Sunday) bearing testimony about the church and saying "Elders lets answer her question about what the next step is". We invited her to be baptized on the 28th and she said YES!!!! We were late to the Christmas devotional, but we saw most of it. She later changed the date to the day after Christmas. I can't think of a better gift to God than by showing him we will follow the example of his Son by becoming a member of his church. She has had a very bad head injury in the past and a stroke. So its very hard for her to remember things. She accepted a priesthood blessing to heal her mind and help her remember what we teach her, I gave that to her and after she said she felt the spirit. Other than that Bishop Anderson and his family is very supportive of us and is pretty awesome!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Elder Justin Thiel

Dear family,
My new companions name is Elder Fuhriman and he's from Las Vegas. He's been out 21 months and is a little trunky.. for Thanksgiving we ate at lunch at a members home and had a Thanksgiving dinner there and we also had pie at another members home. It was pretty good although no one really wanted to talk to us on that day.
This week has been pretty slow out here in the mission field. Most of our investigators went out of town for the week so we didn't have much to do. My new companion said that he needed a gym to work out at so he wouldn't go crazy and I wanted to get back to the gym too, so now I have a membership at Gold's gym. We go in the mornings. It's really weird being the one who has to make all of the choices of where to go and who to see. It's kind of stressful but I'll get used to it.
One interesting thing that has happened this week was on Wednesday 2 interesting things happened. 1. In the morning a member called us and told us to stop by because he had a misson for us to accomplish. He handed us $100 and told us to go buy one of the members of the ward a Thanksgiving dinner. He handed us a list of things to buy and we bought everything. We dropped it off and their faces were priceless. With the change, he told us to go and buy lunch for ourselves. 2. We were trying to see one of our investigators and some random guys just drove up and handed us a cooked turkey. It was the strangest thing that I've ever seen. Because we already had somewhere to go on Thanksgiving, we decided to give it to one of the members in need. You should of seen the look on there face when we showed up with a cooked turkey to someones door who thought that they weren't going to get Thanksgiving this year. The Lord works in weird ways but I think that because we were able to answer someones prayer that evening.
On Sunday I prayed that the Lord would test my faith so that I could prove to Him that I will be his servant and not complain even in hard times. The whole day fell through... everyone we talked to wasn't interested in what we had to say. Haha I thought back to my prayer and I came to the conclusion that it might be best for me not to ask for trials of faith like that while on a mission, but hey I still didn't complain. Next time I will ask that everything goes well for the day because if the Lord can make me have a bad day then he can certainly make me have a good day.
So it was an interesting week but we had fun and were well fed. Hopefully I will be able to give this new elder a good last three months of his mission and that we will be able to continue the work unhindered. I'd like to thank you in advance for the package and for the Christmas stuff and I bet my new companion will like it.
During your next FHE watch either daily bread, in the 2013 mormon messages, a 3 part mormon message, or Patterns of light, located in the 2012 mormon messages, which is also a 3 part message. If you already have watched those then watch the new bible videos. I really like them as well.
I love all of you and hope that you all have a great week!
Elder Thiel 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Elder Colton Richins

I'm sorry but you know that transfer day emails are always lame! I am losing my comp. To answer your question I really did like him. We had some great times together and it was super fun. We had some CRAZY adventures. It was just really hard to do missionary work with him. He didn't really want to do it. But anyways...not important. I will miss him. He's a great guy. My new comp Elder Wilson! What are the odds? hahahaha. I'm so freakin pumped. We are gonna do work! I talked to him on the phone last night and we are gonna make lots of plans to change this area! I am so excited! I really hope that we have lots of success together. 3 more transfers and this is our final hurrah! So we want to give everything we've got! We may end our missions together! That would be so awesome. So I'm still branch president and he is taking District leader away from me (THANK GOODNESS!) And that is the news for me.
Yesterday I was in meetings ALL DAY LONG. I was in the chapel from 8 in the morning until close to 8 at night. Longest day of my life. We had branch conference and I was with district leaders all day. The leadership in the district is incredible! I received about 3 hours of church financial training and MLS. He told me that I kinda just have to play around on MLS to get to know it...ha. He thinks that I have time to "play around" on MLS. I'll try. But I don't think I'll be able to become professional with it. Anyways. It was a good experience. and I am stoked. So that is about all I have time to say today. Pray for me and Elder Wilson. We have such high hopes for these next 2-3 transfers! Miracles are bound to happen! Thanks for all of your love and support! 
Elder Colton Wayne Richins

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sister Sydney Burningham

Turns out Sister Whitehead and I are turkeys!  We had a great Thanksgiving! I love my companion!

Family and Friends,
Where do I even begin this week?  It was a bit different being away from my family for Thanksgiving but luckily we had a lot of people who were willing to take us strays in.  Haha, our Thanksgiving consisted of playing in a Turkey Bowl in the morning, which was so much fun, I mean seriously such a good turn out we just played at this school called Gresham Middle School and got to play some football, it was bitter cold though let me tell ya.  Then we went and ate at Fran Turpin's, she is a less active member and her husband is not a member, we are teaching him, his name is Billie and he is amazing.  Fran retires December 13th and then they will both start coming, so looking forward to that . We ate with the Marler's they have a daughter named Tori who is basically the coolest, she is 19 and thinking about serving a mission so she goes out with us a lot.  We also ate with the Methodists!  I love those people such good food.  This is three Thanksgiving dinners now just keep that in mind.  Then we went to the Kronick's which is always amazing, I truly love these people so much.  The South is amazing.  So if any of you thought I wasn't going to get enough to eat, well, you were wrong.  Haha.
Funny story for this week which ties into my subject of the email today is we got a new investigator and his name is Brian, can't remember if I've mentioned him yet but he is so great.  He's got a great voice and is going to sing at our Nativity Festival this Friday night.  We're really looking forward to that.  He is an older guy and he sort of looks homeless but we invited him to dinner at a members the other night and oh my goodness it was hilarious he just set himself up in the corner and sang Christmas songs to us the whole night.  That man really loves to sing.  We are teaching him about the Gospel but he's not sure about God or Christ or what they mean to him yet so we are working on building his faith and hopefully we can get some youth to come help him as a service project clean his house and get some of his old stuff out of there, he just isn't able but luckily we have incredible youth.  The ward went on a temple trip on Saturday and of course we couldn't go because it's out of our mission boundaries but we got to hear the sweetest heartfelt testimonies yesterday of the temple.  I do miss the temple and the spirit felt there but I'm excited to go again someday! 
As most of us my thoughts were directed toward gratitude this past week.  I have reflected on my life and my mission and have really come to appreciate more fully the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all it's simplicity.  The gospel is simple, there are a few steps, we do our best to be obedient to the commandments of God and we repent and use the Atonement when we fall short.  The Lord loves each of us to much and is just waiting to bless us.  What a blessing to be able to see the Atonement working in the lives of those we teach.  I know I don't update you on all of our investigators and people we see but I have them recorded in my journal and someday I will be able to tell you about all of them. 
"We should thank God for our adversities and pray for guidance in meeting them, it is all part of the plan... when we understand that God offers us opportunities for blessings and blesses us through our own adversities and the adversities of others we can understand why he has commanded us again and again to "Thank the Lord thy God in all things." -Elder Dallin H. Oaks
We are all here for a reason, we have a purpose to fulfill and we are here to become something.  There are great things happening here in Chilhowee I hope all is well back home!
Love you all,
Sister Burningham

Elder Riley Harris

Here is the latest from Riley.  He is doing well.  He is getting ready for another transfer this week.  He is not sure if he will be moving or staying in the same area.  As you can see, he has been engaged in quite a bit of service, some not so fun, but it seems like they mixed their own bit of fun in with it to make some good memories.  

We are proud of him and can't wait to see him soon, but if he needs to be away from home, we wouldn't want him anywhere else.

Nov. 18, 2013

I can't say it's been a slow week here. It's defiantly been interesting and at times trying but it hasn't been slow. We've meet these two kids who live in our apartment complex. They play basketball with us and we teach them while we play, and we teach them after we play. It's really cool too work with them. They aren't the best at basketball but they are still fun too play with. We also got to listen too them play some music. Justin play's the guitar and Tyler plays the Djembe, African drum. I got to play on it for a second which was awesome! I'll have too put the video on icloud too show you these two playing.

We haven't spent as much time at the jet pep so we haven't really talked too Gus this past week. It's sad but we just aren't sure how too move forward with him. We'll figure it out though. Our big goal with him right now is too see if we can't meet him somewhere before he goes too work. Teaching him at work is good but it's not the best. There is always interruptions while we teach because people needing gas... Lame!

Nov 11, 2013

This week was pretty fun. We did a lot of service for people which is always nice. Some of the service though.... I'm sure you could tell from the pictures that we had a hoarder. It was sooo nasty! I couldn't believe the smell. It smelled like urine and mold. We had too pull out clothes that had been sitting there for who knows how long, wet boxes filled with junk, and empty dog food bags. That project took two days to finish. That was even with us leaving early for other things. We also killed some rats. It was pretty funny watching that though. Elder West found all of them. He ran away screaming; Elder Price was jumping, screaming, and trying too get the rat; Elder Orme and I were screamin but actually chasing the rat. We looked like a bunch of idiots but it was fun.

We also got too give blood this week! That was fun since I didn't get to go back home. We helped a kid with his eagle project by giving blood. It wiped us out though. It was totally worth it.

So this week has been another abnormal week. We still haven't gotten much done due too what all is going on. We had Stake conference yesterday and Saturday which was awesome! I'll have to find my notes and share with ya'll what I learned. I think that the best experience though was that I got to see a lot of the members from the Scottsboro and Fort Payne branches there. The best though was that I saw the Saucier family. They were less active when I got too Scottsboro. We found them by randomly tracting a richer neighborhood that we never would have tracted. Sis Saucier answered and we were excited that we'd found a member. Well anyway after I left and came back we started really working with them and tried everything we could think of to try and get them back too church. Then I left and hadn't heard much from them at all. Well yesterday I saw them and Sis Saucier came up to me. She said I don't care if you don't baptize anyone on your mission, and you shouldn't either, because you got us back into church. That just made my whole day! I really did learn that no effort is wasted when it comes too working with people. You are making a difference every day with those around you. You just need too show them the love that Christ has for them! While you do that you will gain that love for them as well!
So now that we had that story here's one from today. Elder Price and Orme wanted to go fishing this morning but Elder West didn't. Since both Price and Orme have poles, I decided to stay with West and talk to him a bit, get to know him kind of thing. So we went to the golden arches and got some breakfast with the gift card Grandma and Grandpa sent me. Well, while we were there we talked, had a good heart to heart and then drove back. We found Elders Price and Orme sitting on the curb. Turns out they had been caught fishing without licenses and kicked out of the park. If we had gone with them we would have been in trouble too. It's funny how things work out! Well now we get too go to the DWR and have them sign some papers. It's pretty funny.


Elder Zach Beckman

Well not much is happening this week... transfers are tomorrow but I am staying here... AGAIN!!! Whooohoo!!!! BUT.... President did call us this morning asking me if I would go District Leader!!!! I said yes of course and he told us to keep it up and that we were doing awesome!! So this morning was pretty good ha ha me and Elder Seegmiller were so scared he was gonna transfer one of us! Ahh I was dying but now im so glad I get to spend Christmas here with him it's gonna be great!!
Well this week has been very hard on us... we are facing so much opposition its crazy! I swear Satan is working harder than ever on our investigators, it is so crazy. We have had one girl that was schedualed for baptism drop us for no apparant reason and now Janet isn't sure if she wants to see us again, and holy cow, it is just nuts how many problems we are facing!!! But just yesterday we were supposed to have Cinderella and a girl named Amanda at church and I swear everything that could go wrong went wrong... we had arranged for a family to pick Amanda up and their car died... so we left sacrament meeting to jump their car and have them pick her up and then the north side elders investigators car died also, so man that sucked and then on top of that Cinderella got sick the morning of church and AHH!!! holy cow it has been like this all week!
Now for a more positive note... we got a call from a former investigator yesterday named Kelly... he calls us up saying that his friend is about to commit suicide and that we need to come over and give him a blessing. So we are freaking out and so me and Elder Smith and Bro. Thompson go over to their house during church to kind of talk him out of it. We get there and sure enough I know the person who is about to kill himself and so he was like ahh man I'm glad it's someone I know... and by the way this guys name is David, but ya anyway, so we sit down and start to kind of figure out what is going on and basically this guy has hit rock bottom... has nowhere to go and no where to live, no family and just as low as he can possibly be. So we start to figure out what he wants in life and he talked about his little girl "Ashlyn" so we started to tell him how this gospel can make him a better person and a better parent for his little girl and it was awesome and not to mention this guy is like 23 has been in and out of jail since he was 16 and just crazy.  So it was awesome to see him break down in tears and to talk to him about his life... we then gave Kelly a blessing and he invited us back over to his house on Thanksgiving to play Yahtzee with he and his wife ha ha ha ha and thats about all that has happened so far... so I will let you know what happens later on with this whole dealio....
Well another cool story this week is about a guy named Noah Baker, he is the bishops dad, and is 87.  Well we are very close with him and like to stop by and chat with him all the time... but Saturday morning around 4 oclock we get a call from him saying I need you to come give me a blessing ASAP! So we drive over there half asleep and this guy looks like he is going to die. I mean just aweful looking, and so we gave him a blessing and talked with him for a while and then left and told him we would be back around 11 to check up on him.  So we come back later that day and he is fast asleep and everything was fine!  It was soo cool to see how the priesthood can do such amazing things!!! and how the Lord really just uses us as instruments in his hands to perform miracles for others!!!  I LOVE MY MISSION!!
Well my week has been good, me and Elder Seegmiller are now setting up Christmas decorations for Christmas and have Christmas music so it is great!  I love being out here!  I know that this church is true or else I wouldn't be out here.  And I love being able to gain a stronger and stronger testimony of the Church each and every day,   It is awsome to always have the spirit with you and to know that you are doing what's right and being able to help people all the time!!
Until next week I will see you all lata!!!!
Elder Beckman

Elder Dallin Stout

On Monday, November 25, 2013 1:28 PM, 
So something cool I found out that Will Smith lives really close, somewhere in Thousand Oaks. The people act like their living in Antarctica! they have snow coats! They look at us like we're insane to wear short sleeve shirts in 50 degree weather! My companion and I are running every morning trying to work off all the food members give us. even though we ride our bikes every other day up huge hill, it isn't enough!
This week we found a new investigator, her name is Crista. We taught her the restoration and some of the plan of salvation. She said she remembers the premortal life, and she talks about seeing spirits. So she has an interesting personality but she is very nice and open to learn more. 
We have been inviting lots of people and investigators to a Christmas party that our ward is having. Mary came to church this week and stayed longer than the first hour, that is great improvement for her. I was asked to give a talk about how we can become more charitable. I usually get a little nervous right before I talk, but I prayed for help and also to be inspired about what I should say to help the people in the congregation. I spoke comfortably and said a lot more than I had planned for and I could feel the Lord was helping me. It was a great experience to know that I can depend on him for anything and feel the spirit working through me.

Sister Sydney Burningham

Hey Everybody!
Glad to hear everyone is doing well, congrats on all the new babies coming into the world in the extended family.  I love all of you!  I got Mike's wedding invitation, I absolutely love it!  Can't believe cousin Mike is getting married and Maggie soon, too!  I love hearing about all the fun things that are going on back on the home front.
As for the mission, things are going well!  This week I just have to brag about the youth in our ward, I mean seriously they are so BOLD about their beliefs and are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, they are the rising generation and they are going to be the most incredible instruments in the hands of the Lord to bring people to the knowledge of the truth.  There is this one young woman in our ward named Georgia.  Georgia is an incredible person.  She just comes up to us on Sunday and says "Hey Sisters I'm going to need a Book of Mormon, I have friends that are interested and I'll let you know and you can teach them and stuff."  Like it's no big deal like she just hands our Books of Mormon all the time.  I love it so much, they are all like that though.  They all go to early morning seminary at 6 a.m. before we missionaries even get out of bed and they are such an example to me of disciples of Christ.  I love them and we get to go on team ups with the young women and their moms and it's just been the greatest experience. 
As far as Thanksgiving and Christmas go, I am so excited to be here in Chilhowee and with Sister Whitehead another transfer, her birthday is December 3rd too so we are just spending all sorts of fun times of the year together.  We were really trying to think of a way we could get the ward to be pumped about missionary with this time of the year especially so we came up with an Advent Calendar, so everyday in December there is something you can do to prepare the share the gospel, or to share it.  Such as reading in Preach my Gospel on the Importance of Members, or reading a chapter of the Book of Mormon, or watching the Christmas Devotional and inviting a friend to come watch..etc.  It's been amazing to see the leadership of the ward just get right on board, we made the calendar with a member, printed them with another and we are seeing every ward member between now and December 1st.  It's been amazing to see them get excited to have ways and goals in front of them so that they can bring people into the gospel.  The quote that we are basing it off of is from M. Russell Ballards talk from last conference that says:
"We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just “one” between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what a wonderful gift to the Savior."
I love those last words, and what a wonderful gift to the Savior.  He wants nothing more than his people to know him, to know of the fullness of his gospel, and the way to salvation and eternal life with him and our Heavenly Father.  I am so grateful for this Christmas season and for the time I have on a mission to reflect everyday on what the Savior has done for me.
I love you all and I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Sister Burningham